The NHL is set up with a solid night of action on Friday night. Seven games will be on the board throughout the night of January 31. One of these games will be between the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers. The Blues have grabbed a nice lead in their division, while Edmonton is in a tight Pacific Division race. This game will start at around 9:00 PM Eastern time.
St. Louis has earned a record of 31-12-8 to this point in the season, which has earned them the top spot in the Central Division. The Blues have an eight point lead on the Colorado Avalanche, who are second in the division. St. Louis is coming off a win in their last one, which ended a three game losing streak. The Blues will look to build on that win with a victory on the road over Edmonton.
The Oilers have posted a record of 26-18-6 so far this season, which has them sitting in third place of the Pacific Division. Edmonton is two points behind the Calgary Flames, who are in second place of the Pacific. The Oilers have the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes right on their tail though, both teams one point behind. Edmonton is coming off a shootout loss in their last one, but have won five of their last seven.
These two teams have found themselves in playoff spots to this point in the season. The Blues have a comfortable lead at the top of their division, while Edmonton is only four points out of the top spot in the Pacific. Both teams will look to earn a big win on Friday night to try and build some momentum up out of the All-Star break.
The Blues and the Oilers met up for the first time this season on November 6 in Edmonton. Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, while Leon Draisaitl had two assists, but it was not enough. Alex Pietrangelo scored a goal and added two assists. Jake Allen stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced to help give St. Louis a 5-2 win on the road.
The second game of the season series shifted to St. Louis on December 18. Brayden Schenn opened up the scoring in the second period. Mackenzie MacEachern added onto the Blues lead with another goal early in the third. James Neal found the back of the net late, but it was not enough. Jake Allen finished with 35 saves on 36 shots to help give the Blues a 2-1 win.
St. Louis has won four games in a row against the Oilers coming into this matchup. Edmonton was in the first two games of the season series, allowing two empty netters in the first one, which ended any comeback hopes. The Oilers will look to start out strong in this one to try and solve the Blues goaltending, which has been strong against them in the first two games of this season series.
St. Louis’ special teams have gotten off to a strong start this season. The Blues power play has been able to capitalize on 38 of their 151 chances, which is a 25.2 percent power play rate. St. Louis penalty kill has been around the league average. The Blues have held their opponents to 29 power play goals on 149 opportunities, which is an 80.5 percent kill rate.
The Oilers power play has been the best one throughout this season so far. Edmonton has been able to score 45 power play goals on 152 attempts, which is a 29.6 percent success rate. The Oilers penalty kill has been doing well also. Edmonton has held opposing teams to 25 goals on 141 power play attempts, which is an 82.3 percent penalty kill.
Edmonton has the advantage in this one on special teams. Both teams have been solid on both sides of special teams, but the Oilers power play has been lethal, and the Blues penalty kill has been average, which could be a big mismatch. If Edmonton can create some momentum on the power play, I think it could give them a nice advantage in this one.
Jordan Binnington will likely get the start in the crease for St. Louis in this matchup. Binnington has earned a record of 23-8-5 through 36 starts this season. In those starts, he has posted a save percentage of .911 and a 2.62 GAA. Binnington’s last start came against the Calgary Flames, where he stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced in a win.
I expect Mikko Koskinen to get the nod in net for the Oilers on Friday night. Koskinen has a record of 14-9-2 throughout his games played this season. He has put up a .910 save percentage and a GAA of 2.90 throughout those games. Koskinen’s last start was against the Flames, where he stopped 29 of 33 shots in a losing effort.
These two goalies have put up similar save percentages and GAA this season. Binnington is coming off his first All-Star appearance, while Koskinen had a break. Both goalies had a tough first game back from the break, but I expect them to be nice and ready for this one. If either goalie can get in a groove early, it could mean trouble for the other team.
St. Louis was able to win the first two games of the season series against the Oilers, but I expect Edmonton to bounce back in this one with it being at home. The Oilers could create a mismatch on special teams, which will help them greatly. If Koskinen can help put up a strong performance between the pipes, I like Edmonton’s chance to earn a win on Friday night.
BetOnline the Blues listed as a -125 against the money line in this game. This implies that St. Louis will win this game around 55.6 percent of the time. I think that with both teams in competitive positions to this point in the season, this game should be closer to even. Edmonton is at home in this game, which gives them a slight edge. As a home underdog, I really like the Oilers in this matchup.